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McDonald’s new CEO works on the brand’s culture

Chris Kempczinski focuses on values amid reports of a “party culture” under ousted predecessor Steve Easterbrook.
Chris kempczinski
Photograph courtesy of McDonald's Corp.

New McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski kicked off the new year with a message to employees seeking to renew the company’s focus on its “core values” following the shocking ouster of his predecessor Steve Easterbrook last year.

The letter, obtained by Restaurant Business, says the values “are the bedrock of our company.”

“We must now champion and apply them more evenly across the three-legged stool to be even stronger,” Kempczinski wrote.

The letter suggests that McDonald’s newest CEO is seeking to establish a more professional image than the one under Easterbrook—one more in-tune with the company’s family-friendly image.

It follows a report in the Wall Street Journal on Sunday that detailed the “party culture” under Easterbrook, in which the former CEO along with former human resources executive David Fairhurst would drink and party with staffers.

Easterbrook was fired in November over a consensual relationship with a staffer. Fairhurst, who had worked with Easterbrook in the U.K., resigned the next day.

Kempczinski, the shortest-tenured employee to ever take the mantle of McDonald’s CEO, has been talking with McDonald’s employees worldwide since he was given the title, including in a town hall meeting in early November and meetings in different markets around the globe. A company survey elicited responses from more than 1,000 employees.

Kempczinski said that the company creates opportunities for people “to fulfill their dreams, no matter where they’re starting from.”

“If you’re willing to work hard, and live our values, McDonald’s can change your life,” he wrote.

“While McDonald’s is a global brand, we are actually a local business,” Kempczinski wrote. “Families visiting our restaurants aren’t just customers. They’re neighbors. That sense of community is what makes our system so special.”

And he noted that the company recognizes its “responsibilities as one of the world’s leading companies, and we’re committed to being part of the solution wherever we can make a difference.”

He doubled down on all of these points on the first post from his own Instagram account.

“Opportunity, community and solutions: three things that make me proud of our McDonald’s system,” he wrote. “I firmly believe that McDonald’s can change the world in a way that no other company can, and we’re just getting started.”

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